The NFL Pro Bowl and the Reese's Senior Bowl both took place over the weekend. These two all-star games are fitting representations of a successful draft process. Ideally, a player can go from NFL hopeful to NFL star in short order. Doing so is a big challenge, of course, as is identifying prospects who have that potential.
This April, NFL teams will gather in Las Vegas to select the league's next crop of future standouts.
That list of future stars could include former Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, who is vying to be one of the first signal-callers off the board this April. He came into Mobile, Alabama, as one of the highest-profile Senior Bowl participants, and he likely increased his draft stock during the week.
Herbert followed up a strong week of practice with an MVP performance in the game itself. Heading into February's scouting combine, Herbert may force himself into the top-quarterback conversation.
2020 NFL Mock Draft
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
3. Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
4. New York Giants: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
5. Miami Dolphins: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
8. Arizona Cardinals: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Isaiah Simmons, OLB, Clemson
10. Cleveland Browns: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
11. New York Jets: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
13. Indianapolis Colts: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
15. Denver Broncos: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
16. Atlanta Falcons: K'Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
17. Dallas Cowboys: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
18. Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh): J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
19. Las Vegas Raiders (from Chicago): Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams): Julian Okwara, DE, Notre Dame
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
22. Buffalo Bills: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
23. New England Patriots: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
24. New Orleans Saints: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
25. Minnesota Vikings: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
26. Miami Dolphins (from Houston): Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
27. Seattle Seahawks: Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State
28. Baltimore Ravens: Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama
29. Tennessee Titans: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
30. Green Bay Packers: Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin
31. Kansas City Chiefs: D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
32. San Francisco 49ers: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Herbert or Burrow at No. 1?
Ever since he capped a Heisman-winning season by delivering a national title to LSU, quarterback Joe Burrow has seemed a lock for the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 1. Andy Dalton is in the final year of his contract, and the Bengals aren't likely to get many chances to get their next signal-caller with the first overall pick.
However, there is no guarantee that Burrow will be the choice. While he appears to be a can't-miss prospect, draftniks know that such a thing doesn't exist. Jared Goff seemed like the can't-miss prospect of 2016, but one could easily argue that Carson Wentz—a riser during the pre-draft process—has been the better pro.
Could Herbert displace Burrow as Cincinnati's preferred choice at No. 1? According to longtime offensive line coach Paul Alexander, absolutely.
"Don't write in JOE BURROW as the 1st pick of the NFL DRAFT quite yet," Alexander tweeted. "There's another choice ... JUSTIN HERBERT who is in the mix."
Alexander also mentions Ohio State edge-rusher Chase Young as a possible choice for Cincinnati at one. That wouldn't be a major shock, either, as Young is a blue-chip defensive prospect—and quarterback isn't necessarily Cincinnati's biggest need.
Would the Bengals really take Herbert over Burrow, though? That depends entirely on what their decision-makers value most. Burrow showed all the physical tools during the 2019 season and performed exceptionally well on the biggest stage. However, Herbert has a combination of athleticism and arm talent that may be even better than Burrow's.
For Cincinnati, this will likely become a decision of proven production versus upside. At the least, Herbert has put the decision into play.
Dolphins Are Seeking a Quarterback
Quarterbacks the Bengals don't draft could wind up with the Miami Dolphins. Miami has Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen on the roster, but Fitzpatrick is a stopgap option and Rosen has struggled to prove himself—or even earn an extended look, for that matter.
What Miami wants is a young quarterback who has more than just the physical tools Rosen possesses.
"When you're talking about the quarterback position, a lot of the intangibles are what separates a lot of guys," general manager Chris Grier said, per Alain Poupart of the team's official website. "You hear stories now even when they talk about, like, Tom Brady coming out didn't have great arm strength or Drew Brees, but those guys are some of the all-time best to ever play the game."
The Dolphins' desire to add intangibles could have them leaning more toward a prospect like Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa than Herbert. While both are physically gifted quarterbacks, Tagovailoa has twice flashed his leadership and drive in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
While Tagovailoa will have to show that he is recovering well from a dislocated hip and surgery, his big-game experience could be the deciding factor for the Dolphins.
Alternatively, Miami could try packaging its three first-round picks and moving up to No. 1 for a crack at Burrow. According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, the Dolphins "covet" the LSU star.
Things could get really interesting if the Bengals do indeed consider Herbert on par with Burrow. Cincinnati could potentially move back to No. 5 and still land Herbert, as the Washington Redskins, New York Giants and Detroit Lions all appear likely to pass on a quarterback.